Ofcom scenarios

Reporting on a homeless, drug user who has been attacked. He has said that “the police are a f..ing joke. I’ll deck the..”

What are the issues involved?

  • Section 2-Harm and offence
  • Section 3-Crime, disorder, hatred and abuse

2.1 Generally accepted standards must be applied to the contents of television and radio services and BBC ODPS so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material.

Offensive material may include offensive language, violence, sex, sexual violence, humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity, discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation, and marriage and civil partnership).

2.4 Programmes must not include material (whether in individual programmes or in programmes taken together) which, taking into account the context, condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour.

3.1 Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services or BBC ODPS.

hate speech which is likely to encourage criminal activity or lead to disorder

3.2 Material which contains hate speech must not be included in television and radio programmes or BBC ODPS except where it is justified by the context.

3.3 Material which contains abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities, must not be included in television and radio services or BBC ODPS except where it is justified by the context.


A witness in an 8 car pile up due to give evidence in court is offered £500 for his story.

Which rule applies?

  • Section 3-Crime, disorder, hatred and abuse

3.6 While criminal proceedings are active, no payment or promise of payment may be made, directly or indirectly, to any witness or any person who may reasonably be expected to be called as a witness. Nor should any payment be suggested or made dependent on the outcome of the trial. Only actual expenditure or loss of earnings necessarily incurred during the making of a programme contribution may be reimbursed.

3.7 Where criminal proceedings are likely and foreseeable, payments should not be made to people who might reasonably be expected to be witnesses unless there is a clear public interest, such as investigating crime or serious wrongdoing, and the payment is necessary to elicit the information. Where such a payment is made it will be appropriate to disclose the payment to both defence and prosecution if the person becomes a witness in any subsequent trial.


A builder is accused of ripping off his customers, taking payment for unfinished work etc. You interview the victims but are unable to contact the builder.

Can you run the story?

Not according to:

  • Section 5-Due impartiality and due accuracy
  • Section 7-Fairness

5.1 News, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.

5.7 Views and facts must not be misrepresented. Views must also be presented with due weight over appropriate timeframes.

7.1 Broadcasters must avoid unjust or unfair treatment of individuals or organisations in programmes.

7.9    Before broadcasting a factual programme, including programmes examining past events, broadcasters should take reasonable care to satisfy themselves that:

material facts have not been presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that is unfair to an individual or organisation; and

anyone whose omission could be unfair to an individual or organisation has been offered an opportunity to contribute.

7.11 If a programme alleges wrongdoing or incompetence or makes other significant allegations, those concerned should normally be given an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond.

7.12 Where a person approached to contribute to a programme chooses to make no comment or refuses to appear in a broadcast, the broadcast should make clear that the individual concerned has chosen not to appear and should give their explanation if it would be unfair not to do so.

7.13 Where it is appropriate to represent the views of a person or organisation that is not participating in the programme, this must be done in a fair manner.


A store in the shopping centre is being closed down and 20 people are going to lose their jobs.

What should you consider before rushing down there to cover the story?

  • Section 8-Privacy


Any infringement of privacy in the making of a programme should be with the person’s and/or organisation’s consent or be otherwise warranted.

8.6    If the broadcast of a programme would infringe the privacy of a person or organisation, consent should be obtained before the relevant material is broadcast, unless the infringement of privacy is warranted.

8.11 Doorstepping for factual programmes should not take place unless a request for an interview has been refused or it has not been possible to request an interview, or there is good reason to believe that an investigation will be frustrated if the subject is approached openly, and it is warranted to doorstep. However, normally broadcasters may, without prior warning interview, film or record people in the news when in public places.

Doorstepping is the filming or recording of an interview or attempted interview with someone, or announcing that a call is being filmed or recorded for broadcast purposes, without any prior warning.

Also to be taken in to consideration sections 1 and 5: the age of the employees and wether it is impartial and accurate.


You name the suspect of a terror attack on air and then further information reveals the true offender.

What must you do?

  • Section 5-Due impartiality and due accuracy

5.1 News, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.

5.2 Significant mistakes in news should normally be acknowledged and corrected on air quickly (or, in the case of BBC ODPS, corrected quickly). Corrections should be appropriately scheduled (or, in the case of BBC ODPS, appropriately signalled to viewers).





Student Blog

My name is Sally Brown and this is my first blog entry as a year one  student on the BA (Hons) Journalism and Digital Media course at Hull College. I am a mature student, returning to study with the view to  finding a career in Journalism (as opposed to the many jobs I have previously done).

This isn’t my first experience of Higher Education, I started studying towards a Psychology degree with The Open University. This later became an Open Degree as I found that the statistical side of Psychology was both time-consuming and laborious. I decided that an Open Degree would enable me to choose the subjects that I enjoyed and was good at.

Having chosen a Creative Writing module I re-kindled my love of both reading and writing. However, I realised that distance learning was not suitable for me. My major difficulty was time management and motivation. Also the lack of feedback and input from peers made it a very solitary way to study. I decided I needed to be in a classroom type of environment with more contact and a set study programme. Hence my decision to embark upon this course.

Weekly Reflection

The induction week is in the past and the first week of study just finished. So far I am enjoying the course and looking forward to the challenge ahead. We have been introduced to the modules we will be studying and also to assignments, which is rather daunting.

The course is very different to anything I have previously studied. I am more familiar with essay writing and academic studies. The practical, hands-on approach to learning ,the technology and digital media are all very new to me. Fortunately, I do have some basic computer skills and although it may take me a bit longer to grasp I’m sure I’ll get there!